Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge Day 18 #HAWMC

Day 18 of the WEGO Health Activist Writer’s Month which I have signed up for – a month dedicated to the art of writing about health. 

Today’s writing prompt:

Open Book. For today’s post, open the nearest book (or find your favorite and open that!) to a random page and point to a word or phrase on that page.  Using that phrase or word as your inspiration, free-write for 20 minutes.

“It’s about how we spend so much time pretending to each other that our lives are all together, because we don’t want to admit that we’re just a “bozo on the bus.”

This sentence comes from a chapter  titled Bozos on the Bus, in Elizabeth Lesser’s “Broken Open: How Difficult Times Help Us Grow” , which is the book I am reading at the moment.  I have come to learn since reading this book for the first time three years ago, that  we do each other no favours by hiding our truth from each other.

I joined an art therapy group at my local cancer support centre during my cancer treatment.  One of the exercises we undertook in class was to create a mask. It was an interesting exercise, prompting us to examine the masks we wear, the ones which hide our true identity. Many of us wear a social mask, although we weren’t born like this. Growing up, we may have created an image of ourselves that is different from the person we believe we are. We may have felt for whatever reason that we had to hide our true selves behind a mask and we fear being found out, fear having the mask removed and our true selves exposed.  Hiding behind a mask makes the risk of exposure less frightening. Over time however, maintaining this façade can become a burden. We may lose our ability to be spontaneous and enjoy the moment, it may limit us in what we can achieve, we may become too dependent on the opinions of others, and keeping up appearances at all costs.  Some of us may wear more than one mask to reflect our different roles in life, and this in itself can become exhausting. I have observed that for many people, a diagnosis of cancer has been the prompt they need to take off their social masks, and be who they really are. They come to a realization that life is too precious to hide or limit our true selves.

I used to think that everyone had it together so much more than me, but thanks to my fearless blogger friends who have shared their vulnerability, their fears and their sadnesses so honestly in their writing, I have developed the courage to also write about my own times of sadness, despair, hopelessness and depression and to declare that I too am just another bozo on the bus of life.